Edwin Armstrong and the FCC

Edwin Armstrong inventor of FM radioJulie Borowski asked about underrated men on her Facebook page this week, and Edwin Armstrong came to mind.

Edwin was the inventor of FM radio, but RCA with some help from the FCC strongarmed him out of the business. This is an important story today with the FCC working on regulating the Internet in the name of Net Neutrality.

Here is a great article on Edwin Armstrong and his tragic story. The basics are that Armstrong was a genius inventor that revolutionized electronics. RCA on the other hand was an established electronics company that had invested heavily in AM radio. FM radio would have cost RCA a lot of money. So instead of playing ball RCA turned first to a corrupt FCC official in an attempt to destroy FM.

The future looked bright for FM. Other radio set manufacturers, including Zenith and Western Electric (but not RCA, as we shall see), arranged royalty deals. Despite the United States’ entry into World War II, the number of commercial FM stations doubled from 18 in 1941 to 36 in 1942, and grew to 46 in 1945. According to Time magazine, more than a half-million FM radio receivers were then in use.

Then came a shocker: In January 1945 the FCC proposed to kick FM up into the range of frequencies around 100 megahertz, and to give television additional space in the vacated area. This precipitated a third spectrum battle between FM and television.

The stated reason for the proposed move was the concern that, at FM’s current frequencies, radio transmissions would be particularly vulnerable to interference caused by sunspots. It was necessary to make the move immediately, since the height of the next sunspot cycle was expected in 1948–49.

Unfortunately for RCA, it’s difficult to destroy superior technology. Since FM didn’t go away RCA had to try a different tactic. They attempted to license the technology from Armstrong, but didn’t like his terms, so they stole it. RCA developed their own FM system,

RCA, which first ignored FM and then asked the FCC to rule it out of the airwaves, eventually accepted the new medium as a fact of life and started to manufacture FM receivers, as well as televisions with the required FM sound. Sarnoff had offered Armstrong a flat fee of $1,000,000 for a license to use his FM system when it was first approved for commercial use in 1940, but Armstrong preferred a royalty arrangement.

RCA used it’s wealth and the power of the US government to suppress Armstrong’s new technology. Did this effect the world? It’s hard to say. What would it have been like if Elvis and Buddy Holly had been broadcast in hi-fidelity FM?

Is history repeating itself? Are Internet giants like Google bending the FCC to their will in the name of Net Neutrality instead of sunspots? Is the market being abused by corporate profits and government corruption? If the FCC wasn’t above this kind of behavior in 1945, why do we think they are above it now?

Why Occupy Supporters Should Hate Uber

I have a cousin who is a emphatic Occupy supporter. He is constantly discussing why companies that want to profit are bad and minimum wage and other government regulations are good.

Today he shared a post about Uber. His Brother-in-law (who I suspect also slants liberal) is driving for them.

Uber is a wonderful service. If you aren’t familiar, Uber is a ridesharing company that uses the Internet and mobile apps to let people use their personal cars and drive others around. It’s a great opportunity for individuals who want to make a little extra cash and a great service that’s probably cheaper and more accessible than a taxi. Brilliant idea.

The thing is, Uber is completely capitalist and their dui attorney in nashville flies in the face of years of government regulation of the transportation industry. Taxi drivers have unionized and helped passed laws to protect their artificially inflated wages. The government has adopted these laws and transportation is one of the most highly regulated sectors of American industry.

This makes Uber the EXACT OPPOSITE of what every democrat, liberal, socialist or Occupy supporter wants! It is a total libertarian/conservative/tea party idea. Power to the people, no government regulation, freedom to do what you want with your car and your time.

Anyone who is liberal and loves Uber must either reconsider their position on Uber classic car insurance UK or reconsider their politics because they don’t mix.

Best Financial Advice Ever

Great article with some great financial advice from some very successful people.


The best one was Scott Adams.

Scott Adams, creator of ‘Dilbert’ and author of ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big’

The best financial advice I ever got was “Price yourself high and see what happens.” Humans aren’t good at knowing their market value. When I started doing paid speaking engagements I had no idea how to price myself. A mentor told me to quote an absurdly high price. The client accepted it without hesitation and offered to pay my travel expenses as well. I no longer underprice myself.This article was made for pocket knife guide among many.

For more info please visit Ciya.com.

Metrolux 14 shows blurry version of Thor

Recently I commented on Roger Ebert’s commentary on poor projection. Since then I have had a poort movie experience myself.

My sister had arrangements to watch her kids so a few of us went out to watch Thor about a week ago. We visited the only theater in Loveland Colorado, the Metrolux 14. Prior to our visit, I actually submitted a link to Ebert’s article through the contact page on their website and asked them if they had problems with Sony projectors and 2D/3D. I did not receive a response.

We chose the 2D version of Thor since my previous 3D experiences have not been enjoyable. The first thing I noticed about the film was it’s blurriness. As the title sequence played, my first thought was that I needed to visit the eye doctor for a new prescription. The titles were just blurry. As the movie continued, it did not get more clear. The close up scenes were OK, but the sweeping views of Asgard that someone spent a lot of time and money creating were fuzzy.

So what did I do about this? Did I chase down a Metrolux 14 employee and demand my money back? Did I storm out? No, I sat and watched the movie. My job isn’t quality control for Metrolux 14. I have no idea if they have sony projectors, if they were using 3D lenses or if somebody just didn’t adjust the focus. All I know is we spent $35 on four tickets to watch a movie in a theater. We could have waited a month, bought the blu-ray copy and watched it on the 46 inch flatscreen or with the home theater projector and had a much better experience.

It may be a while before I go watch another movie, but when I do it probably won’t be at the Metrolux 14. There are a few movies opening soon (Super 8, Green Lantern) that are on my list to view, so a visit to other local theaters are may be in order. As I watch these movies I will post the name of the theater and my experience so you can know what to avoid. Likewise, if you have comments about the Metrolux 14 or any regional theaters in Northern Colorado pleas feel free to share.

Miss Maine, Emily Johnson, has to give up title because of NBC scheduling

Back in November Emily Johnson was crowned Miss Maine, but six weeks into her reign NBC announced they had moved the Miss USA pageant to June from the traditional April to better fit in their schedule. Miss Johnson had a prior commitment, her sister’s wedding

“That was the only date the entire year I couldn’t do it,” Johnson said. “For a while, I was bawling my eyes out. I was so devastated.”

Miss Maine officials weren’t pleased.

Mackenzie Davis, executive director of the Miss Maine USA pageant, says she understands Johnson’s reasoning, but she says Miss Maine is a serious commitment and that she’s disappointed Johnson withdrew from her duties.

Emily has given up the title, prizes, trip to the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas so she can be in her sister’s wedding.

Hiring overseas developers

I have a question for everyone out there. Have you ever tried to hire a development team from overseas, India, the Phillipines, etc… I’ve just tried it and I would like to share my experiences.

Developer 1:

Accepted my project at a low hourly rate. Got started, but didn’t seem to grasp the project. After about a week of back and forth it was obvious he wasn’t going to do what I asked, so I cancelled it.

Developer 2:

This is a well reviewed development company, who seemed to have it all together. I created a project with three relatively simple tasks and got and estimate back that was about 10 times the length that I had anticipated. Sure, the hourly rate was low, but the project time was huge.

My question is, is this typical? I have a theory that overseas development firms are charging ridiculously low rates (1/10th of what an American developer would charge) but making up for it in the hours they bill on the project. This isn’t any observation about the technical skills of the developers, but more of a review on how their business model works.

Does anyone have any thoughts/similar experiences? I would love to hear them.

Bags fly free, but fat people pay double

In the corporate fopah of the week, Southwest Airlines threw director Kevin Smith off an airplane for being too fat.

Smith, 39, originally purchased two tickets “as he’s been known to do when traveling Southwest,” the airline noted, but when he decided to fly standby on an earlier flight, only one seat remained. Although he had been seated, he was asked to leave.

Not only was Smith booted from the plane, on his eventual flight he sat next to a woman who was also told to purchase two tickets, so it looks like this is corporate policy this week. Apparently their plan to make up for not charging for bags is to charge fat people double for their flights. Who knows, might work.

It’s understandable that Southwest would want to protect the safety and comfort of their other customers, and it’s possible that Mr. Smith was too large to sit in his seat, but his experience was inexcusable. If airlines are going to make these kind of decisions about the size of their customers, there needs to be some standard of measurement, and there has to be a better way to handle the issue outside of embarrassing a person in front of a planeload of people.

Southwests’ ads promoting that Bags Fly Free! ask other airlines why they hate bags. Maybe someone should ask Southwest why they hate their customers.

Even Social Media companies don’t get Social Media

Lisa Barone on the Outspoken Media blog recently took Comcast to task for not using Social Media effectively in her article Twitter Won’t Make You Suck Less. Ask Comcast. She made some great points, and even though I didn’t agree 100% with Comcast’s failures, I absolutely agree that companies need to be active in Social Media, and not just passively react to angry customers.

Interestingly, one of the companies that defines Social Media, Facebook, is currently doing just that. You may have read about the big change Facebook made to their home page recently, and how their users have reacted. Once current group named “We will change it back if 1,000,000 people hate the new switch” has over 524,000 members. Facebook has 300 Million active members, so 1/2 a million isn’t a huge number, but I sure wish I had 500,000 members I could piss off an ignore.

My point isn’t about if Facebook was right or wrong, if the change was good or bad. People hate change, and it’s a fair bet that any time you modify a piece of software, website, magazine format, newspaper layout or anything else some of the people involved won’t like it. I understand that. What I don’t understand is Facebook’s implementation. They ARE one of the two top Social Media platforms in the WORLD, and they don’t bother to ask what their changes should look like, or even notify anyone that a change is pending? They are going to wait until a million, 5 million, or whatever the magic number of disgruntled users is and then make a tweak to placate them?

Comcast has had over 40 years to become a bloated corporate entity that doesn’t care about the individual. Has Facebook managed to accomplish the same thing in a mere 6 years? Maybe this article should be titled “Facebook Won’t Make You Suck Less. Ask Facebook”.

Is there any hope? Can companies learn to communicate communicate with users and make good decisions. Honestly, if Facebook can’t do it, how can anyone?